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To the first edition of the author's poems, printed in
1645, was prefixed the following advertisement of
The STATIONER to the READER.
for the slightest pamphlet is now-a-days more vendible than the works of learnedest men; but it is the love I have to our own language, that hath made me diligent to collect and set forth such pieces both in profe and verse, as may renew the wonted honor and esteem of our English tongue: and it's the worth of these both English and Latin poems, not the florish of any prefixed encomiums, that can invite thee to buy them, though these are not without the highest commendations and applause of the learnedeft Academics, both domestic and foreign; and amongst those of our own country, the unparallel'd attestation of that renown'd Provost of Eton, Sir Henry Wotton. I know not thy palate how it relishes such dainties, nor how harmonious thy soul is; perhaps more trivial airs inay please thee better. But howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that encouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men in their clear and courteous entertainment of Mr. Waller's late choice pieces, hath once more made me adventure into the world, presenting it with these ever-green, and not to be blasted laurels. The Author's more peculiar excellency in these studies was too well known to conceal his papers, or to keep me from attempting to solicit them from
him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I Shall deserve of the age, by bringing into the light as true a birth, as the Muses have brought forth since our famous Spenser wrote; whose poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated, as sweetly excell’d. Reader, if thou art eagle-ey'd to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.
Thine to command,
Poems on several OCCASIONS.
ANNO Æ T A TIS
On the Death of a fair Infant, dying of a cough*.
Soft filken primrose fading timelesly, Summer's chief honor, if thou hadst out-lasted Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry; For he being amorous on that lovely dye
5 That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss, But kill'd, alas, and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.
* This elegy was not inserted in the first edition of the author's poems printed in 1645, but was added in the second edition printed in 1673. It was compos’d in the year 1625, that being the 17th year of Milton's age. In some editions the title runs thus, On the death of a fair Infant, a nephew of his, dying of a cough: but the sequel shows plainly that the child was not a nepbew, but a niece, and consequently a daughter of his sister Philips, and probably her first child.
Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld, (held. Which ’mongst the wanton Gods a foul reproach was
But all unwares with his cold kind embrace Unhous’d thy virgin foul from her fair biding-place.
But then transform’d him to a purple flower : Alack that fo to change thee Winter had no power..